Despite having a trade deficit globally, Ecuador's trade balance with the EU is positive. However, the difference between exports and imports with the European bloc is constantly getting smaller. "This is due to factors that the country can't control, such as the trade war between the United States and China and the increase in protectionist measures in the world," stated Marianne Van Steen, EU ambassador to Ecuador.
Since the commercial agreement with the European Union entered into force in 2017, Ecuador's exports to the EU have slowed. In 2017, they grew by 12%, while in the following year they only increased by 3%. Between January and September 2019, exports have only grown by 1.26% compared to the same period of 2018, due to lower demand for the main products. According to Van Steen, the decline in these products is due to the fact that "Europeans are very demanding regarding health, sustainable trade, environmental, and labor standards. In addition, they are demanding more and more organic products."
Opportunities in the European Union
While the potential of the main Ecuadorian goods for export to the EU has diminished, other products are gaining acceptance among European consumers, such as pineapple, tamarind, pitahaya, frozen fruit, orchids, and avocado, Van Steen stated.
Between January and September 2019, Ecuador's avocado exports to the EU amounted to US $543,000, i.e. 274% more than in the same period of 2018, when exports of this product totaled $45,000, according to data from the Central Bank (ECB).
In addition, exports of pineapple and frozen fruits increased by 4% and 3%, respectively. According to Van Steen, the export volume of these goods can be important, when one takes into account that European consumers are willing to pay more for them.
The specific case of avocado reflects the potential that certain Latin American products have in other markets. Between 2016 and 2018, consumption of this product in Europe grew by 65%, to 650,000 tons, according to the World Avocado Organization (WAO). In Spain alone, one of the 28 EU countries, the demand for this product has skyrocketed by 171.97% in the last 10 years. This is due to a change in consumer taste, which should be taken into account by countries like Ecuador, Van Steen stated.